Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guru Musings: UConn Women Vs. UConn Men

By Mel Greenberg

The Guru has been taking advantage of a relatively dead night Tuesday to do some organizing to soon add local Division II and III coverage to the melgreenberg.com site.

But while checking out an interesting fact relating to Philadelphia University coach Tom Shirley's impending 600th victory, which could come on his fourth try at home Wednesday night against Chestnut Hill College, this amusing thought hit the Guru's mind involving special comparisons this week between the University of Connecticut men's and women's teams.

What was the difference between the two Monday night and what will be the difference between the two programs on Sautrday?

On Monday, the men's team used a Walker named Kemba to beat Villanova at the finish in a Big East game at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.

That same evening coach Geno Auriemma's women's team didn't need a freshman Walker named Samarie, leaving her home for unspecified reasons regarding a personal matter, while the No. 2 Huskies went on to trounce No. 10 North Carolina on the road in Chapel Hill.

On Saturday, near what once was a traditional weekend women's date for a CBS-TV appearance by the two schools, Tennessee's men will visit Connecticut at the XL Center in Hartford.

As far as the other gender goes, what was once the top rivalry in the women's game has been no more since Tennessee coach Pat Summitt cancelled the series after the 2007 season for reasons that have never been made precise in public.

Though the two programs will be miles apart instead of close together there will be some proximity because Tyler Summitt, the son of the Hall of Fame Tennessee women's coach, is a freshman on Bruce Pearl's roster this season.

Meanwhile, did you know that the combination of Auriemma and Calhoun have produced 1,590 career victories, which is tops in the entire NCAA for two coaches working at the same institution?

Why does the Guru know this?

Because the only other 1,500 tandem in the NCAA is right here in town at Philadelphia University where going into Wednesday night's men's-women's doubleheader at home at the Gallagher Athletic Center is the combination of Tom Shirley and all-time NCAA winningest men's coach Herb Magee who are at 1,515.

Auriemma's wins have all come at UConn while Calhoun had been elsewhere before joining the Huskies.

Conversely, all of Magee's wins have come with the Rams while Shirley, in his 30th season, coached eight of them at his alma mater Allentown College, now known as DeSales University.

The next tamden approaching the 1,500 mark are Tennessee's Summit and Pearl, though the Guru is unsure how wins are being handled during Pearl's eight-game Southeastern Conference suspension in relation to NCAA rules violations.

The Guru, who has been on the Philly U. case, will be dealing with those events by remote since it is important to be at the first of two Atlantic 10 showdowns between St. Joseph's and Temple. This one will be at the Owls' Liacouras Centerat 5 p.m. before the men's team meets Penn in a Big Five game.

The Big Five tango between the Hawks and Owls women, which could decide the title, will be near the end of the regular season on Hawk Hill.

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Meanwhile, whatever is the problem involving Samarie Walker, former recruit Elena Delle Donne, now at Delaware, might be off the hook after her one-day attack of freshmanitis back in 2008.

And for those who may have missed these quotes from former Auriemma whipping girl Wilnett Crockett, now a Temple assistant, about her UConn experience which the Guru used to advance the UCLA men's NCAA win streak-tying game in New York against Ohio State, here are most of them on instant repost:

“It was a learning experience," Crockett said. "You have to get used to how he was – his sense of humor and everything like that. I think that initially it’s like `Are you serious. Did you just say that right now out loud for everyone to hear. ‘

“I mean, once you get past that and you realize that’s just how he is and he’s just trying to motivate you and get the best out of you and then you pretty much brush it off.

“Do I have any funny stories – I don’t think my stories are any too much funny that I recall. It was plenty of nights – tears and not too much left.’”

"I think when you’re in the moment you don’t realize everything but once you step out of it, and you get around your teammates that you went to school with and you start talking about what went on and you laugh about it.

“But in the moment, I’ll be honest. I wasn’t laughing about anything that was going on. Even though you’re going through it and you say, `This is hard. This is hell.’ You always have your upperclassmen your teammates to tell you `Don’t worry about. Brush it off.’”

“I look back now and I don’t regret anything. I’m happy with my four years. Two national championships. You can’t complain. You take the good with the bad and you move on.”

Meanwhile, though, when one adds Heather Buck's lackluster work in the paint to Walker's situation, instead of Auriemma worrying about low posts or high posts, he's dealing at the moment with no posts.

Temple coach Tonya Cardoza, an assistant to Auriemma for 14 seasons before taking the Temple job in 2008, had a little trouble moving on recently in terms of travel.

When the Owls recently played at Charlotte in an afternoon game in their Atlantic 10 opener, the team had to wait a day to return home on a commercial flight due to timing and cost issues involving several flights.

"In my last job, we would be on that charter right after the game and would have already been home in our beds," Cardoza said with no rancor intended.

DePaul coach Doug Bruno recently noted the pros and cons of chartering flights after collegiate games at places that can handle the costs of such luxuries.

"The good news with charters is we're home in time for the players to get in their own beds and not miss much class time," he said. "The down side is you're not in a town long enough to learn a few things, see a few sights and enrich your collegiate experience beyond playing basketball."

Well, looks like the Guru managed to say enough until next time.

-- Mel


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